Last weekend I took our car in for a routine oil change. As expected the staff were friendly, the service quick, and everything was done right. They provided a comfortable lounge area while I waited with a big screen TV, coffee and water. Those were my expectations and they were all met.
However, there is one more part to the story. As I was doing the initial paperwork, I noticed some bicycles. They had helmets and backpacks so I asked if staff rode their bikes to work. This is where the routine experience became something amazing.
The response to my question was, “no, those are for our customers to borrow. Do you want to take one out?” The auto dealership is close to downtown and not far from a bike trail leading to one of our state parks. There was apparently no limitation on where you could with them or how long you could take them out. Check out their program here.
I didn’t take them up on the offer but, as someone interested in helping businesses market and stand out from their competitors, I thought this was great marketing.
Here are just some of the reasons why:
- It was relatively low cost. Bikes, backpacks, locks, and helmets is it. Plus some signs.
- Bike riding engages and offers the customer an experience. Even if you don’t take a ride, I didn’t, the idea gets attention and interest.
- It connects with their brand and many of their customers. Subaru ads often focus on outdoor activities, experiencing nature, etc. The ideas of loaner bikes fits well with the message they sell.
- May is National Bicycle Month. They connected with that by running YouTube contest showing the bikes ridden on various local trails. If you could name the trail, you won a prize.
- They took advantage of social media for marketing and shot their own video, all low-cost marketing. See: http://bit.ly/1Jv2CtQ
- When speaking to Jerry Coutts, Service Manager and person responsible for the idea, he noted the idea came from seeing it at another dealership. Good marketing often comes from watching what others are doing. You need, though, to modify them for your situation and to set yourself apart.
- They found a catchy name, #KupperKruiser.
The list goes on but I will end with one final thought. The most effective marketing comes when others tell your story. This idea is a good one for encouraging this to happen, it takes the routine and makes it something to tell your friends.
As far as growing the campaign, they have opportunities with increased signage and posting pictures and/or videos of customers using the bikes and talking about the experience. This would enhance the visibility, expands customer endorsements, grow social media activity and keep costs low. They can also think about what could be done over winter and again next year.
As a disclaimer, this is not a paid endorsement. I saw a clever marketing idea and appreciated how the idea was developed and implemented. Ideas like this are something any small business owner can do. Small business owners should always have their eyes and mind open for such ideas, ways to get people talking and set your business apart. That’s effective marketing.
Good job Jerry and Kupper Subaru.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.